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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  September 4, 2012 6:30am-7:30am EDT

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if you took a boat up the hudson, that would take three days if the wind was right. if the wind was bad it could take you a couple -- ten days to get from new york city to albany. and now on a train it's like, what, few hours. so, yes, there are restrictions that come from not being able to get around. but the flip
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>> intellectual, bright, young likely affluent kids, you know, or privilege kids get to go to stanford, very smart. within three days the guards were beating the crap out of them. i mean, they were like that would never happen. why would that ever happen. you put them in that situation and it happens. so the longer you are immersed in these worlds, the easier it is to kind of forget like where
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you are. that definitely happened to me on a number of occasions. so those events were the ones where i would use the word fanatical because it was like now, we're going to eat only the food that they ate -- rome, the best way to reenact, hasn't changed. grapes, salami, more bread, wine, perfect. so much better. somebody else had a question i saw over here. >> what did you find to be the easiest aspect of writing the book, and what were the more difficult aspects of writing the book? >> nothing easy about writing the book. no one teaches you how to write and 87,438 word book. the longest thing i think i've ever written was 2000 words, so it's funny, i'm hoping it's going to be excerpted in a magazine and i've been working on excerpts this chapter, and i
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get to rewrite my whole book now. you go back and think that's terrible, who wrote that? one of the things, it was a learning process for me. it was a learning process. it's like, i hate to sound pretentious but it's like sculpting writing nonfiction. you have your found material, henry will shape it one way, and then shape it another way. some others' culpable shape it another way. this is my stamp. i found raw material and i formed it into this. and so often one of the hardest things to do, like what do we leave out? this book could've been for her thousand words. they could've been 12 volumes. it could've been awful. by the way, i wrote my thesis on things of remembered past. it was hard to figure out what to keep them, want to keep out. because i was sort of writing it as i was doing it as well. like that first experience, i
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didn't have a lot else to compare it to. and so as i was learning i would start cutting stuff from earlier chapters because i was trying to fit that in later. and i'd also like to say that anybody here who is a writer or was ever try to write force interest in writing, you always hear like writing advice, find the same place to go every morning at 8 a.m. and right. and i'm like that's ridiculous. i wrote this book in like everywhere. keep the joints on my lunch break, you know, i have public transportation, at like numerous hotels in las vegas. don't ask. i was out there on work and he was like i would just close the blinds in las vegas and be like, you know. so yeah. i find writing to be really, really hard. and i hope that, if anybody here is a writer, i hope that you do, too.
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i just find the really difficult. when the book came out all right woman almost had it finished i went through and read it all out loud, and that really helped me. any place that felt clunky got cut because i read out loud but i wanted it to be companionable, as a member of you said. any other questions? yes, ma'am. [inaudible] >> can you call my editor? she asked if i had an audio version of doing this. now. unfortunately. >> coming soon? >> i hope so. i hope so. >> it would be interesting for you to read it. >> yeah, i think so, to. >> i think i would enjoy it in an audible form. >> yeah, thank you, thank you. anybody else agree? regime's, please.
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[laughter] >> did any reenactments have any scripts? >> that's a great question. >> thank you very much. >> now. although i will say the roman we back that i did in his tiny little town in arkansas, population three and 85, these two minute built a 26,000 square foot replicate auxiliary fort with four watchtowers and the mode. it's like this whole compound. is just mind blowing. that they took the scenario very seriously. i will say this. there wasn't dialogue but there was an outline for what happened. and i write about in the book that i was like i had no idea what's going on when i was there. not a clue. i was trying -- it was, i would walk in the room and people were speaking half latin in southern
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accents, and they were like cleaner. and i'm like what are you -- last night i can't even understand latin and just a standard american accent. so now, they had a very pretty devised this whole scenario, much more so than i think some of the other events. this one felt very scripted, heavily scripted. there will be moments when people would come in and they were like, you know, julius, like, i have killed the celts. it was one moment, a very funny moment, i was, i was fixing a shoelace or sandal, i was trying to tie my sandal together. and i was by myself and i was in the middle of the floor and there was no one else around. and this guy, this roman came up to like the century in or something like that, it was like i have killed the killed and i
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present you with his closing. and i thought there's nobody a round. like, they don't even now i'm in here. like i'm sort of peeking out of the tent. so scripted in some regards, yeah, but i don't know if they rehearsed it or want, but i was like blown away. i was like they're really taking this -- i'm an actor. they become the audience themselves, and that was where i put that together, that that was the objective. you are the participant and the audience member at the same time. very bizarre. he read the book and he contacted me. we are now facebook friends. he said, i killed that killed. [laughter] >> i saw one other hand. [inaudible] can you talk at all about some of the interpersonal politics or
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politics between groups? that's something we talked about, fascinates me. >> sure, yeah. this is a roman by the way. and a professor at loyola marymount. that's a great question. a lot of the groups do have very differing opinions. because this is a hobby. no one is getting paid. everybody is doing it voluntarily and there's a lot of time commitment, and you sort of need like almost a theater company i was a. you need a benevolent dictator really to kind of say look, the romans, there are probably 25 legions or so in the united states. that's what they're called, and their regional. you are a part of your local legion, let's say, and what you have there are people who want to do it for different reasons. they are researching things and finding out different things and correcting each other, and so there is, there can be this very contentious, and i was on a few
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yahoo! message boards and i would see these flaming back and forth, just call each other out on stuff. and i think any and it's it's probably good to have that sort of dialogue. i'm a, it can probably be wrote some of the groups, but just because you are into this 80s into this and doesn't mean you're all going to agree on how should be interpreted or what the objective of the group is. one of the fascinating things, a sidenote about rome is that the rome group, legion six better work with her, -- with here, intellectuals, professors, one thing is a renowned coin dealer in the south, they're legion, one of the legions there, very biblically oriented. they will perform like sort of passion plays at local churches. so depending on what region you're in you also find people are attracted to a particular moment in time for different reasons. so you find out here, i didn't
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find the religious aspects but certainly in the south there was that aspect with rome. any other question? yes. >> are any of the countries doing this? >> yeah, definitely europe, and i would just say sort of the west, it's a western phenomenon. the only evidence i found any eastern country doing reenactments is japan, and i'm not aware, typically, you know, if you were a military power or if you were an imperial power, global power at one point or another, or at least a regional power, war doesn't have the connotations that might have in countries that have been defeated. and say don't typically find in other countries that have been the victims of war, people with
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too keen of an interest in reliving it as a hobby. but it's definitely a western phenomenon. in england, it's quite popular. certainly they have a much deeper history than we have. and the civil war, american civil war reenacting, believe it or not, is very, very popular in england. i think it's actually the most popular reenactment, believe it or not. yes. >> recent wars, like afghanistan is being reacted? >> no, there are people who are collecting because a lot of, you have reenactments ending of living history, and living history of sort of, for lack of a better phrase show and tell where people will kind of put out uniforms and weapons and stuff like that and people are starting to click. it has some of the interest is,
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oh, that was the uniform in 2004. that's not the uniform anymore. a camouflage has changed, or what have you. but now, the most recent war that has any real numbers is a vietnam. and i did reenact that, which was by far the most disturbing reenactment. i did not on private property in the middle of virginia -- i did that on private property in the middle of virginia and the stuff that happened there that was quite disturbing, for me. should i -- why don't i read. sure, of course. by the end of the book, to end your question again, one of the things i learned was civic pride, having tried in the place i live. -- having pride in the place of the. along the way reenactors as they do think you'll become a reenactor? is this something you stick with? and so i didn't really think that it would.
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i was fascinated by the hobby and had a great time doing it. crazy adventure but i didn't really think that i would continue it. but a sword asked myself the question like well, what would i do. what they do if i was a reenactor? what with the choices i would make? in some regards this is my chance to editorialize but i hope this last chapter sort of reveals not only my sense of humor, but also my civic pride. and i wanted to do something about the place where i live. that's so difficult in los angeles because the history isn't that long, and it's not all that a parent. we have paved over a lot of the history. so i decided that i was going to do something, and that was to walk between the two los angeles missions. dressed as a spanish writer. i wanted to do something that was civilian. i wanted to do something that would ambush history, these guys that are met, do something we
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dress up and you go out in public and you make people go like what? what's that guy doing? and look and do a double take and then wonder. then you can say i in you, or this is what was happening right here 200 years ago. the first order of business was to map my root. spanish friars were down a trial between emissions and called it el camino riau, or the kings highway. i would've loved to have followed in the footsteps but, unfortunately, today in many parts of the 10 lane 101 freeway. singh has walking on the one that would result in certain death i did what any educated man of the day would do. i let mapquest route my journey. monday i open my laptop, and the two addresses and traced the 26-point 7a path as a zigzag northwest. the neighborhoods and communities, i zoomed in to look
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closer at what lay in its root, residential and commercial districts, freeway overpasses, airports, schools and rec centers, the six lane boulevar boulevards. to my surprise i saw that it even pass within three feet of my apartment. for nearly seven years i've lived right in the middle of history, and didn't know it. want to give it in my course i set about planning on the logistics which were virtually impossible to replicate in the 21st century. whenever the friars walk between missions, out of native territories, soldiers a country them and burroughs carried all the food and supplies. i decide to combine the two companions into a circle soldier into a list friend who would mind can carry a backpack filled with water, food and flyers i passed out along the way. i divided each soldiers shifting
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to five -- five-mile stretch. wendy, my wife, volunteered to be the first one and i was excited for to join. it was the first reenactment should see me do it and after year of leaving -- leaving town, time and space i was happy to share some of my experience with her. during this two months i read a number of books on the missions but was surprised to find one my favorite factoid for reading a children's book. apparently at one point rats had infiltrated the san fernando gregory peck to get rid of them the friars bart catchings and gabriel. when i read i decide to incorporate the episode into my walk as a sort of objective for my character. you know, just in case somebody asked me what i was up to. a day after i read this wendy and i headed to towards her us were i bought a small stuffed black and white cat. afternoon comes the logistics i started assembling my kid. for reenactors this is the most
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important step. if you don't look good and authentic gear, then really, what's the point? while the hard-core reenactor would've found the sheet, she comes by the wall and soda, i opted for a more efficient approach. i ordered my brown habit from an online costume store. even the most in perfect soul can achieve the look of spiritual profession with this costume. the habit came with a rope belt and oversize cross and a silly friar tuck week but i figured it was going to cut corners on my garb, i had to go hard-core on the hair. so i decide to shave it into my very own, a friar chuck, if you will. all i can say is it sounded like a good idea at the time. the night before the walk on a cool friday in early january i went back to the salon where i got in my nazi haircut. in the intervening 15 months the price had risen from $7 to eight, and the red who styled my
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hitler do, no longer work there. to give my hairdresser a visual id of 11 i printed out a few pages a month had cuts on the internet. after waiting nervously for five minutes, i was approached by woman with shoulder length auburn hair named anita. are you ready, she asked in an armenian accent? i stood up and looked her in the eye. yes, i think. but are you? i handed her the images, fearing she would think i was a plant in a hidden camera show but to my surprise she didn't flinch. in fact, she studied them closely like a cook consulting a recipe. i, i'm walking between the missions, i said nervously. but she didn't respond. she just continued to consider the strange hair. you see, i don't really want to do this. i'm writing a book and it's going to be the last chapter and what's funny is i would like my hair far too much just to shave it off. she looked at her eyes towards me and kept her head down. she studied my head like a great
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painter looking at a blank canvas. finally, she spoke. whispered really. okay, she said, go to salon in hollywood. many people want strange epic but i think when done, you must wear hats. [laughter] i pulled one out of my back pocket. already thought of that. it's hard to believe that the medieval practice was only abolished in 1973 by pope paul the sixth. shading one scout to only a fringe of hair remains was meant to resent the crown of thorns on jesus had. it wasn't as ugly people surmised in massively hideous bald spot. by the time she finished i look like a cross between st. francis of assisi and jim carrey in dumb and dumber.
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clumps of brown hair slid down the front of my partners gave and a cool -- i looked in the mirror. wow, i said. too shocked to scream or cry. 11 years of propecia down the drain. i'm sure none of anita's instructors or cosmetology school ever asked her to fashion this, and yet despite this being her first ever, it was flawless. fairly flawless. she was my saint paul mitchell. i handed her the mirror back and she looked at me very sincerely and said, now would be good time for had. [laughter] i ended up paying her double for her hard work and slept outside into the darkened alleyway that leads to our apartment. when i reached our door i slid the key and slowly so my wife would never. once inside i left the baseball cap on, kicked off my shoes and stuff towards the bathroom so i could wash off all the a jihad, but happily there she spotted
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me. let's see, she said. just a minute, got to take a quick shower first, i said, dashing to the bathroom and shutting the door. i took off my clothes and loud at my temples with shaving cream to tidy up the remaining stubble. darling, i want to see, wendy cry for the other side of the door. not now, i'm naked. we are married, she said, and flung open the door. oh, no, she said, seeing my bumpy white scalp. oh, no. i could've closed the door but figured she needed to see me and all my nastiness so she did start acclimating. i just need to tidy up my temples a bit dragging a razor down side of my head. they are a bit stubbly. oh, darling. she said. oh, no, oh, no. is okay i think that it can go back. no, no, she said. no, no, no. the own time i've seen are like this was a time when i told her that one day our cats would die. i'm just saying, it's inevitable that one day dusty and jazzy won't be here.
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that momentary pickup of intelligence launch an unstoppable shot of tears in her and nothing i said could stop them. now it was happening again. i feel cold, she said, grabbing her stomach. shivering in my tummy. i feel i can stand on the edge of a cliff. hey, hey, i said, approaching her with outstretched arms. it will only be for a day. but by the time i uttered those words she bolted out of the bathroom to a couple months earlier she approved my mission walk idea. she had known for a while that i was going to get my haircut, so i couldn't understand why she was so upset. i turned around to resume shaking but when i looked in the mirror i didn't recognize the person staring back at me. he was butt naked and ring of fire encircled his bald head. shaving cream was spared all around his ears. i raised my head, hand, and he raised his. i slid the razor down my face, and so did he. but that guy in the mirror, that guy looked like a crazy person.
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i flashback to the time at old fort niagara when john said to be reenacted the first thing you have to do is admit to yourself that you are a little crazy. i had officially arrived. thank you very much. [applause] >> this is the author's website, >> how old was she when she killed herasself?she >> she was 26. guest: spent why did she kill herself? >> she killed herself because hl of, well, what we know is she w left a suicide note that said that she was distraught that shs distraught over her husband's philandering so that was the immediate cause. >> host: and the was the president grandfather stanley
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dunham's grandmother. >> guest: she lived only to be 26 and because of that dramatic, stanley and his older brother moved back to old eldorado and a character named christopher columbus clark that fought in the civil war. >> host: where did the grandparents meet? >> guest: they met in augusta which is about 12 or 15 miles away both in butler county sort of on the way to wichita and that is where she grew up. stand had already been out of high school for several years and matalin was a senior in high school. he was working in construction and renovation and that's where he met her. >> host: what was that life like in kansas? >> guest: their life before or after? after they are married it was
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sort of her parents didn't really like him or the first thing that her father had was dark skinned and an element of race even in that and she married him secretly before she ridgely the from high school she was a very smart young woman who had always been on the honor roll until she met stanley who was slick talking out of arkansas, kansas, and sorry, and that's what she wanted. she had grown and the sophistication of hollywood and stan promised something else he promised to take her back there and then they are somewhat unstable. not the marriage was necessarily on stable but the jobs were
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always unstable and they never knew where they were going next said it was a rocky road. >> host: where did the obama clan began? >> guest: it began actually in sudan. i would start the story in the small village by lake victoria to the south and east of the major city in the province which was a very poor part of kenya. it's where the little tribe is basically center the second referred largest tribe in africa and the about where the obama's found themselves. >> host: on the president's paternal side where the grandparents?
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>> guest: he was born in the late 1800's and was in the first wave to be westernized they had come out and he learned english and became sort of inculcated into the british culture so he worked later as a chef and cut for many british military people and folks in nairobi and the mother came from another village in that area, and she did not -- he was a very difficult guy to live with. he had several why of this and
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when he moved to the area near where she grew up it was back to another home state of the clan around lake victoria. she had enough. she had a younger wife along with him and so she ran away. she left the family when barack obama, the president's father was a very little boy. >> david maraniss his grandparents died in 2006. did president obama ever meet him? >> guest: no, he never met after the 1980's after his grandfather had died. aside from the very early days of his birth but he didn't get back to kenya until both of his grandparents were gone so there's a dramatic difference in
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that part of the story. >> for barack obama the story how many interviews did you do over the course of the last four years? >> guest: i would say almost 400, and i had a wonderful assistant who helped with some of the leader interviews in the story but i traveled all over the world and so everybody could find in every part of the life of president obama and his parents and grandparents. >> host: barack obama sr. was born in 1936. what was his childhood like? >> guest: from a fairly early age he was dealing with western culture in the british. he was a very smart kid. his father was difficult to get along with and was not often there mostly in the nairobi and
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he was growing up. he was lucky in the sense that he was smart enough to get into a very good school in that area, and although he never totally finished he was a very smart student. they had that clash of old and new. for all of his youth and adolescence he was in a colonial country in a very poor part of the kenya, so he lived in the mud huts with cowles and no television and stuff like that. a century behind in some ways and get kenya was starting


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